GolfDigest.com has posted a photo sequence of the key holes changed at Augusta National. Naturally, the 7th looks silly (big architectural insight of the day: when standing in the middle of the fairway and your view of the greenside bunkers is choked out by trees, it's time to call in the Oakmont tree-removal squad).
But the new 15th tee looks good at least (now about those pines down the right...).
More interesting are Ron Whitten's photo descriptions. I've read a similar tone in the past from various publications, mostly from the club. I think it's a troubling tone if you respect the vision of Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie.
For example, on the changes to the 7th green:
The green has been redesigned to create a possible right-rear pin position; the right-rear portion has been lowered one foot, so that players will no longer be able to fly it past front-right flag locations and let the slope spin the ball back to the hole.
Design flaw repaired! Players hitting balls to spots and letting them feed down? Just so wrong. Wait, that same thing allowed for Tiger's 2005 chip-in on 16, which was what, maybe one of the ten greatest moments in sports television history? Top 5 Masters moments? Unforgettable. Goose bump stuff when you see it now shotmaking? No, those kinds of feeding slopes must go!
In fact, the more I think about it, the more that such feeding slopes are the essence of Augusta and exciting tournament golf. (You know, the crowd cheering a slowly rolling ball down the slope.)
This accompanied the photos of No. 11:
Several clusters of dogwoods are to be planted in the left-hand rough to eliminate the possibility of bailing out to the left and having a relatively easy second shot from the "rough" or pine straw.
See, those Jones and MacKenzie guys didn't close all the gaps. They opened the door for someone to bail out and have a "relatively easy second shot from rough or pine straw." (Because of course it's so easy to hit a ball out of a flyer lie or off of pine straw, over water, with 15 million people watching...oh, and the Masters possibly on the line!).
You see, today's master designers and course setup gurus plant scrawny Christmas trees to plug these design leaks. They close all the gaps. That's why they're masters.